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BMJ Journals: Terms and conditions for electronic letter submission

Posted online 26/06/2008
  • We intend to post all eLetters approved by the Editor within 7-14 days, which must contribute substantially to the topic however it is at our absolute discretion whether we publish and timeframes cannot be guaranteed.
  •     We will not publish responses, for example, that are, or appear to be, obscene, libellous (or would require us spending time or money to establish that they aren't), in some other way illegal (for example, inciting racial hatred), contempt of court, sub judice, incomprehensible, insubstantial, gratuitously rude, blatant advertising, that gives information on patients without their written consent, not written in English, too lengthy,  in capital letters, almost entirely a quote from somewhere else or are sent by someone who does not provide adequate and accurate personal details, including a functioning email address, or who does not respond to email inquiries. It is for us to decide whether we believe it appropriate to post responses.
  • We make our own judgements on the sorts of legal things mentioned above, rather than refer them to our lawyer. By far the commonest problem we see is libel. In nearly all cases, the responses don't warrant us spending money to confirm our judgement that     something is libellous (and we have experience from cases where we have consulted our lawyer that our judgement is usually right) and don't warrant making an effort to substantiate defamatory letters. The same applies to other breaches.
  • We make no distinction between different types of respondent: doctors, health professionals, non-doctors, patients, people from the UK, people from other countries, subscribers, members, non-members, etc.
  • Your name will be published with your response. If you want your email address to appear on the website, include it in the body of the text of your response.
  • We reserve the right to edit responses before and after publication.
  • If patients could recognise themselves from your description please obtain their written consent to publication before sending your response.
  • Your response must be original and not infringe any third party's intellectual property rights.
  • Once a response has been published on the website, you will not have the right to have     it removed or edited. The BMJ shall, however, be able to remove or edit any response at its absolute discretion.
  • Authors are responsible for the accuracy of what they say in their eletters. We cannot check facts, though we may challenge authors if we think they are wrong and may ask them to substantiate what they say - for example by giving a reference. We also     do not check references to say that they really say what they are claimed to say: that too is the author's responsibility.
  • If only a line or two of an otherwise OK response is defamatory or extremely abusive, we may delete the line and post the rest.
  • While we try to deal with all our authors in as courteous and timely manner as possible, because our threshold for posting eletters is low, dealing with tricky eletters is a low priority for us.
  • We try to avoid entering into lengthy correspondence about why we have not posted an eletter. Again, it's not a good use of our resources and any response we give it is at our discretion.
  • Letters with figures and tables may take longer to post - because we have to ask our production operators to handle the formatting and posting of graphics.
  • All responses will be considered for print publication

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